Sexuality and Religion

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Zenda71, Jul 23, 2004.

  1. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Yeah, I second that! Marriage, at least in my experience, is totally liberating. It liberates one from the artificial expectations and grouse strutting of the single scene. It's an ongoing challenge and learning experience; a great unknown which has to be embraced in the interest of one's continuing education and growth, but it's so much better than the dating scene, and once you settle in and get comfortable you can be so much more than you ever could on your own.

    Chris
     
  2. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    I agree with Salty and China's thoughts on committed monogamous relationships. By opening up to giving and receiving love unconditionally from a partner, we can grow in amazing ways.

    As for the concern that men do not make themselves emotionally vulnerable or accessible because to do so would lead to unfaithfulness, I feel this isn't accurate. Certainly not all men are sluts. ;) To justify men's emotional cowardice by saying that they would be necessarily be unfaithful to their partner if they were more emotionally open is, I believe, a weak argument--and one that is again based on gender stereotypes that men always think first with their dicks.

    I find the argument gets particularly troubling here:

    The more men or women repress their feelings, the less alive they become. People who are not honest with themselves and others undermine trust. Reading that sentence, the logic seems self-evident, yet as a culture we continue to applaud or condone men for stonewalling emotionally. I really do not think men's emotional impotence and anorexia is anything to be proud of or condone. Much of the violence in the world is caused by this lack of trust between people, so I don't find men's (or anyone's) refusal to express feelings to be any kind of blessing. This emotional refusal is also a declining of the opportunity to be human, and separates people from other individuals and community, which leads to the need to control and dominate. I don't find it too outlandish to suggest that men's fear of emotion is strongly linked to the prevalance of nationalism, tribalism, and war.
     
  3. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    Neither do I, I was just joking. Personally I think a lot of it has come with womens liberation, shortening of the skirts, etc. Lets be honest mini skirts are great if you have the legs for them, if not, please cover up madam I am eating my lunch.

    You are now the Vice President. We do not exclude based on weight, height or body hair, only on comments such as "that is so last season", "have you seen the state of her hair" and "I can't, I might snap a nail". So welcome the new Vice Pres.

    Pathless

    Sorry I went off topic there a little but the subject does fascinate me. To get back to faith and sexuality. Sorry but I believe in marriage, in monogamy and in modesty. I do not want to be told what my husband and I should do with each other in the privacy of our home and certainly have no interest in telling anyone else what they should do but I believe there should be boundaries for society, even regarding sex.

    However, I have found Islam refreshing, in that for the first time I feel that my body is my own. Okay I can see why that would sound wierd to the liberated 'wear what you like because your body is your own' west (and please remember I am western so am not knocking the west) but I never felt my body was my own, it was always on show, always being judged by men and women alike.

    Our faith teaches much about sex and sexuality but within the confines of marriage. A man should not leave the bed until his wife is satisfied - wow that was a good one to read about. We are also taught that homosexuality is wrong but must be tolerant toward homosexuals. I just do not see how faith can open up and say come all, no matter what your sexuality. What if a person wants to explore beastiality, should that be acceptable as long as it is done privately? Does that make the persons faith in G-d less? These are not questions I can answer.

    One thing I have noticed by learning about Islam is the changing attitude to masterbation, in line with societal changes. It was once viewed as 'very naughty' but as people travel further and for longer periods, you see more religious opinions that state masterbation is ok, if you feel you must and if it keeps you from the sin of adultery/fornication. Perhaps that is one demonstration of how faith can change with the times? I am certainly pleased it is becoming less of an issue and most people have stopped screaming hell fire about it.

    Salaam
     
  4. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    I'm sorry that I keep taking this off topic, but I'm not a religious person so it's hard for me to come at it from that perspective. I don't think there's a disconnect between culture and religion. There's no clear line between the two because religion, or I should say the reverberations of religion past and present permeate every aspect of culture.

    I find it amusing and paradoxical that, in the name of liberation from male control, women have been somehow coerced into the most extreme forms of objectification. It's like saying "You don't control me, and to prove it I'll be your little sex object." Dirty old men everywhere applaud and laugh their collective ass off. "You go girl!"

    I personally could care less what anyone wants to wear or not wear, but I do find that aspect funny.

    Chris
     
  5. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    Hi Chris

    Bloody good point and shamefully true.

    I think it has gone one further than that, not sure if it is happening in the US but here we now have 'laddets' (a lad being a young male). These are groups of young women that go out to get as drunk as possible and pick up a guy. I find it appauling, yet funny at the same time. As you say "we don't like the way you treat us so we are coming down to your level". What? :confused::(:mad: Are they quite mad?

    That is no slur on men, not all guys behave this way, as of course not all young women do, just a sad observation of a group of our youth.
     
  6. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    To be honest I think that the sexual revolution was valid, it's just that it was instantly co opted by media and advertising interests. Feminism is equally valid, but the feminist ideal of great thinkers like Betty Friedan is all but dead as far as culture in total is concerned. It's truly sad.

    Chris
     
  7. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Yes... just briefly: to me, feminism is not about the right to wear mini-skirts and be objectified.

    This should just be common sense. :)
     
  8. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    I don't think that this kind of behavior is the direct result of women's liberation and feminism. It is more complicated than that... but I'm too tired right now to articulate a response. Maybe later. I will say that it doesn't seem at all feminist to me, more like the adopting of some of the worst of our cultural practices, once reserved for males only.

    Peace,
    P
     
  9. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    I don't believe any woman would say it is, but as Chris says, the media have taken us in that direction. What started as an issue of rights for women has now largely painted women into a corner imo. We perceive it as a right to have our boobs hanging out and it is other peoples problem if they choose to look. This to me does not actually make our bodies our own but in fact makes them public visual property. Personally I think we have been conned into believing that we want this and that it makes us owners of our body.

    If you ask most women why they dress so sexily to go to work, they will usually say "I don't do it for anybody else, I do it for me". What is that about, do they need to show so much of their body to feel confident, do they need to feel they are winning the competition or what?

    I hear women all over the world saying - oh that it were. ;) I just found it amazing that it was written into a religion 1400 years ago, I had to close the book and check the cover in case I had picked up the wrong book.
     
  10. Impqueen

    Impqueen Queen of the Imps

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    Interestingly Germaine Greer, high queen of feminism herself, says in 'The Whole Woman' (to the best of my memory) that we have gone from a situation in which women weren't allowed to express their sexuality, to a situation where women aren't allowed not to express it openly. From being called sluts to being called frigid :mad:. Either way society is defining women's behaviour. She also had a lot to say about the lack of respect for mothers.

    Although I'm not actually married, I am in a long-term monogomous relationship that I expect to last until death. And I agree with what China and Salty said about it. We are each other's supporters. Love making is one of the ways we connect with one another, on levels that go beyond the physical. We are best friends. I can slob around the house in jeans and a baggy jumper and he'll still think I'm fab.

    But it's nice to go out in sexy clothes sometimes. And I'm not sure why I like it, partly because it's nice to turn K into a drooling mess, now and again :D but that's not the only reason. I prefer to be with friends in those cases, people I know will appreciate it, but not misconstrue it as some kind of come-on. I suppose there is a kind of power in rendering a man speechless. :confused: For myself I feel no 'need' to dress like that, but sometimes I like to do it. Other times I'll just be me. My sense of dress is often slightly bizarre anyway, so only freaks like K would find me attractive.

    As for not leaving the bed until both partners are satisfied... glad to hear Islam is so enlightened. Sometimes I think people's interpretation of satisfaction needs to be broader than just orgasm.

    From a religious point of view I see no need for religion to interfere with my sex life.
     
  11. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    Hello and greetings, Pathless!

    I'm thinking I might have been a little misunderstood, and most likely I didn't properly communicate my view -- though I would say my post was actually incomplete. I didn't bother covering loop-holes to prevent possible misunderstanding.

    Yes I did "exaggerate" to some extent. The setting up of straw men was deliberate, but only to get the gist of my message across.

    Rather ironic! The word "slut" is usually reserved for women.

    Ultimate and strict suppression of emotion wasn't what I was promoting, but what I was merely saying is that men suppressing their emotions may be a good thing especially in front of women who are not their spouse. It's natural for a woman to express her feelings -- no problem there.

    A man not sharing his feelings with his wife will obviously be a problem. Emotions aren't necessarily detrimental to a man's marriage, but withholding personal feelings is probably more likely to be detrimental to the relationship. It doesn't mean that a man should be transparent all the time. If he never or rarely shares his deeply personal issues, his wife can't help him, but if he is completely open his wife probably wouldn't like it either. She'd know about all his dark secrets, and would probably be disgusted with the man she'd married. Ultimately, he has to tell her eventually about his concerns and plans for the future. His wife is supposed to be an ally, a confidant. If he doesn't tell her about the things that are important to him, she can't help him.

    There is, however, something worse than a man not sharing his deeply personal issues with his wife -- it's if he shares it with someone else -- it could be another woman (a possible affair), another man (male bonding) or drinking beer at the pub, etc. If it's not another person then it's some activity that he uses as a diversion -- playing golf or going fishing or something else. He develops an "emotional bond" with someone or something else other than his wife.

    With regards to a man sharing feelings with a person other than his wife -- yes it might be a danger (but not always). It's the possibility for him establishing an emotional bond with another woman. It opens up the possibility that he may think that this other woman is better than his wife. It's a diplomatic and political exchange. He is sending signals to the other person. Not all friendships will lead to that possibility, but many friendships fall in the category of "a friend with benefits" (if you know what I mean). If you have a friend like that, a friend with which you would consider having romantic afflications, you already have the motivation to pursue some form of "infidelity," even if it's not "sexual," "physical" or even "lustful." An emotional bond, a fantasy of a future with that person, is enough to be ........ dangerous........ Men and women don't have to make physical contact to be "unfaithful." An emotional interaction may be enough.

    -------------------------------------------

    For me personally, I'm not really interested in the moral implications. The man undoubtedly has emotional needs, and most of us need some time to deal with them. It's not always the man's fault. People often have a lot of expectations of men, and we feel under pressure to meet them. Our state of mind doesn't matter to people. People don't care about our state of mind. They want us to do what they expect us to do, regardless of how impossible the task especially with the emotional load we carry. Whatever explanation we give them will never be good enough.

    The hope is that their wives/girlfriends/partners will understand, but since we often don't express the deeply personal aspects of our lives, and because women often have their own agenda (not aligned with our's), it is not the fault of women either. It's not really anyone's fault. It's just that our scope of knowledge and understanding is insufficient. Time is also, often, short.

    But this is exactly why things go wrong. We don't express our feelings that much, and as a result people think we don't have any. When we finally come round, they don't want to hear about it. So we go and find someone else or something else as an emotional outlet.

    Men aren't to be criticised. That's not my point, as I am a man myself. Because women express themselves more, they think it's normal to express one's feelings and to be transparent when one possesses feelings. If there is no expression then they assume there is no emotion. Because men behave so "logically" and "rationally" they often assume, with the cynical belief that men are systematically conjuring up some kind of conspiracy when they hide their personal feelings (ie. they are lying, or trying to manipulate women).

    Men hiding their feelings is an act that is seen as unjustifiable, illogical, unreasonable and unwise from a woman's point of view. But that's the problem. Women naturally express themselves. Men naturally hide their feelings. Women are criticised, by men, for expressing themselves too much and unnecessarily. Men are criticised by women for not expressing themselves when it matters, that they fail to see the importance of opening up. I disagree with the criticism. Because this behaviour is natural we should instead ask why this behaviour and attitude in men and women is useful and exploit it. How can we take advantage of human nature for our mutual benefit?

    What I mean is that we will never understand why things go wrong in relationships if we don't understand people's behaviour. A lot of relationships are torn apart because men and women don't understand the natural personality of the opposite sex. Instead what they do is emotional damage, and each side blames the other for having the wrong attitude. Nature should not be criticised, but exploited to our advantage. Rather than letting nature destroy relationships, we should instead turn the tables and use nature itself to reinforce the relationship.
     
  12. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    You may have heard of the recent controversy surrounding the Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly in Australia, who compared Western women who didn't wear enough clothing to "uncovered meat." Many Muslim women were actually offended by the statement and disagreed with it. Their response was that they didn't agree with the idea that they were responsible for the behaviour of men and that they provoked it, and that wearing hijab was an indication that they condeded to that responsibility.

    They explained that yes, hijab represented modesty, but that it had nothing to do with provocation but a form of liberation -- that they felt liberated from the cultural demands of society -- from having to impress people with their looks or compete with other women.

    With regards to the way Western women dress themselves: I don't think it necessarily has to do with being sexy.

    Sometimes it has to do with professionalism. It's an expression of dignity and self-respect and also of devotion and dedication to one's job, work and profession. It has to do with being well-dressed -- which is what men do too for their profession -- they dress themselves nicely for the job. Customers and clients don't want to have to deal with a dirty, untidy person. It's to do with business and presentation, and also to do with trust.

    As well as dressing nicely for one's career, yes it may also have an alterior motive -- a signal to possible suitors for marriage (if one is not already married). But the same dress code is meant to cover for the various dimensions of public life -- professional life and personal/relational life before marriage, which is jointly a part of a women's personal dignity and personality. Even after marriage, women may still continue to wear the same clothes in public -- it's just a sign that she hasn't lost her dignity and self-respect since getting married. She is still the same person even though there is now someone really close in her life.

    The funny thing is, women put make up on when going out in public and take it off in private -- whether or not they are married. What you might say is that she is "less sexy" at home than she is in public life. That's ultimately driven by the idea that the husband at home loves "the real woman" and that the woman in public life who wears make up and a fancy dress is wearing a mask to hide the reality of who she is as a person.

    Yes . . . the public life -- it's just a show . . . women do it too -- not just men -- at least physically.:D That may be another thing in the distinction between masculinity and femininity. Men and women wear masks in public!!! Men hide their personal feelings and personality-flaws and women put make up on to hide their physical ugliness. Men and women who fall in love often fall for the mask and the fancy dress and not the real person.:eek: Society is a fancy dress party!!!

    I think there is a certain level of ignorance among both Western and Muslim cultures with regards to the practices of their counterparts. Western women assert that "I don't do it for anybody else, I do it for me," while Muslim women assert that "I don't have to do it for anyone. I am free."

    I believe both parties are right for what they believe. There's no universal right/wrong here. It just depends on your viewpoint. The Western view is that Muslim women are enslaving themselves for believing in the need to wear hijab, but the idea is that it is society that enslaves, and that the hijab is a way of escaping the oppressive influences of society. The Muslim view is that the Western woman is enslaved by the need to impress and compete. But the Western woman doesn't see it that way. She is not trying to impress nor trying to compete sexually. What she wears is an expression of the woman that she is, the woman she wants to be, and the woman she will become. What she wears is a daily reminder of the purpose that her life represents.

    The mistake is to think of the counterpart as enslaved when they are actually liberated.:eek:
     
  13. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Hi Salt,

    Thanks for elaborating on your opinion, but I still think that we're operating in culturally-conditioned gender stereotypes here. Is it really "natural" for men to hide their feelings? I don't think so; I would instead argue that it is culturally conditioned. I believe that all people benefit when they are able to be emotionally open and honest with themselves and others. Men usually do not do this for many of the reasons you have listed:

    • Such behavior is not seen as "natural" to men (again I say that this emotional withholding is not based in biology, but rather in social conditioning based in culture)
    • Fear that being emotionally open will lead to or be misconstrued as unfaithfulness. I think that as a culture, we need to work on this pigeonholing. It requires difficult work to break these stereotypes and live up to a new vision of relationships...
    Touching again on committed, monogamous relationships: yes, these are safe areas for couples to express their emotions. There is great trust and liberation in these relationships. I wonder, though, if the strict ideas we have about love and monogamy sometimes stifle our potential to be loving individuals? If someone is in a loving, monogamous relationship, should they necessarily be disqualified from being honest and open in other relationships simply because of their gender, or because they are married/in a long-term relationship?

    Heavy questions--ones to run from, for sure. I think that committed relationships are wonderful and liberating, like just about everyone else here. One of the things that I find most liberating about my own partnership is that deep, open honesty means that we are always conscious of each other's needs. Part of that consciousness is recognizing how important Love (not just sexual or romantic love here, mind you) is to heal ourselves and the world. To limit the scope of Love to only the two people in the relationship seems to me one of the most horrible tragedies possible.

    I am not advocating "free love" or suggesting that Love is all about sex and "open relationships," or swinging, or anything as base as all that. What I believe is important about Love is that it should be the basis for community and all relationships between people, not simply monogamous romantic relationships.

    Maybe we need more words for Love and all its sub-categories.

    Wow, this is an exhausting topic to discuss. Coffee and breakfast might help me think more clearly.

    Thanks all for a challenging discussion.

    :) :cool:
     
  14. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    "I am not advocating "free love" or suggesting that Love is all about sex and "open relationships," or swinging, or anything as base as all that. What I believe is important about Love is that it should be the basis for community and all relationships between people, not simply monogamous romantic relationships."

    Love thy neighbour. I heard that somewhere before. As the current class 'cynic' I remind you all that the word highlighted in red is the most problematic word in the English language.:rolleyes:

    Tao
     
  15. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Meh. :eek: That's true, Tao. I let one slip! Didn't mean to should all over myself and everyone. Thanks for the catch. :)
     
  16. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    My experience is that it's not usually in my interest to display vulnerability. Certainly not in the world of men. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that women especially want us to display our emotional vulnerabilities because it disrupts their feeling of security. They say they want us to tell them how we feel, but I think it's more that they don't want us to bottle up our emotions so that we wind up acting out and smacking them around. It's not good to look weak in front of your wife. It really worries her. She counts on you being strong. That's a source of security for her.

    That said, though, I think that it's good to display strength of character and overall sensitivity. I don't think my wife's sense of security was challenged when I broke down and cried as I held our children when they were born, or my raw show of emotion at my brother's passing. The ability to appreciate beauty and feel pain demonstrate depth and emotional honesty. So perhaps that's what they mean when they say they wish we'd show our feelings. That's different than saying "I feel worthless." "I feel like quiting my job." "I feel that I hate your mother."

    Chris
     
  17. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Hi Chris,

    Yes, the big bad "world of men" is no place to go around emoting your inner pain or unfulfilled desires. This to me is the problem. Until men can be open emotionally and not feel insecure about how they will be percieved by their wives and other men, we will remain divided along these weird gender lines where women feel and men act.

    As far as women wanting men to be emotionally staid and solid, I think that varies in relationships. It sounds like you are speaking from your own experience, which is certainly valid. My own experience is that when I tell my partner "I hate my job and it makes me feel worthless" she wants to hear what the problem is and hash out some options with me. No one is threatened, and although the conversation may be stressful, sad, or unpleasant for both of us, we work through it, coming to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationship in the process.
     
  18. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    Thank you Salty, you have taken time to consider this and I appreciate it. It is rare that people really try to see the others point of view.

    I think what really offended women is that he said women who dress like this are asking to be raped. He was basically blaming women for being rape victims, which has long been an issue in Islamic societies and one that seriously offends Muslim women.

    I agree completely and a rapist is a bully, not an innocent man seduced by the clothing of the woman, no matter what that clothing. Lock em up and throw away the key.

    Amen to that and boy is it liberating for me but that doesn't mean I think all women should dress this way, it is a matter of personal choice. In Islamic society responsibility is meant to be shared. As a woman I should not dress or behave in a way to provoke men and they should not dress or behave to provoke me or indeed try to take advantage of me. The hijab is largely about privacy, my body is my own, my sexuality is for my husband alone and if I am respected it is for my mind or heart, not for my fashion labels or shape of my boobs. I find it very, very liberating. :D

    There is also the hypocracy to consider. So many women that wear the face veil also wear as much makeup as their eyelids can hold, without the lashes falling off. Then they shout about how the women in the west dress as sluts. They make up the only part of them that can be seen, because I can report with authority that they don't wear blusher or lipstick. So it is done in order to appear beautiful and not for modesty. This is where I say that the hijab often has the opposite effect as is intended, oh look a beautiful pair of eyes so what else lurks under the black robe? And let us be honest, even the dullest, ugliest eyes can be made to look good with enough goo on.

    Okay I am prepared to be completely honest here. I was a professional working western woman for many years, I worked in a strictly male environment and I wore smart suits to work. I like to think I dressed to be professional but did people need to see my bra through my sheer blouse or was I aware that this would hold mens attention, when I was rambling on about boring statistics? The latter is true. Could I look tidy and professional in flatter shoes or did I like the shape of my legs in higher heels? The latter again. So is it not really just an excuse for flattering attention? Virtually all of the men I worked with were married and I have never, even in my wilder days, believed in adultery, so for me it was just about an ego boost, I liked to be admired. :eek:

    Okay now here is a wierd thing, I hadn't even thought about it before you mentioned this. My behaviour has changed completely. I now take my makeup off if I am going shopping by myself but if I go out with my husband I put it on. I also sit around all day in a pony tail but about half an hour before my husband comes home I go and do my hair. So what does that say about my marriage and my brain function? Am I now a simpering sex toy? :eek: I hardly think so but I can't say I understand it. Perhaps it just comes with the new territory of believing I am only for my husband to enjoy and vice versa? Hmmm, will think on that one.

    I think this is where I am really struggling with this. I am now from both camps and so I hope can see both arguments. Yet I have to report that in some ways (certainly regarding my body and sexuality) I do feel more free now. Before I converted I would have said, with real belief, that I didn't do it for anyone else, it was for me. However, I can now see what a load of old tosh that was, I did it to compete and be admired.

    But how will the two sides ever accept this? I am having difficulty and I have been on both sides. I am like the ex smoker, that wants everyone to see the benefits of stopping. I used to truly believe that I was liberated and now I see I was quite the opposite, I was manipulated. I went to lunch with my best friend last week and I sat in her home for over an hour while she made herself up, who was she doing it for - I don't fancy her honest, and her hubby was at work and her 3 kids just want some money for chips. So I worry now about her confidence, why does she need all this to 'feel' herself or to feel acceptable to the public? Perhaps we need a six month program where the whole world swaps dress code for 6 months and then see what comes out at the end of it (of course I don't have to join in because I already took part in the experiment and thanks all the same but I shall stick with my liberating hijab :D).
     
  19. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    Perhaps it is wrong of us but I have to agree with this analysis completely. Perhaps it is unfair on men. I was a heartless bitch when I was single (and I am not being flippant), because I had to be. I couldn't just let go and cry whenever I wanted, I had a mortgage to pay and the car to fix, etc. Now I am a big pink fluffy marshmallow and I LOVE IT. I have the freedom to be a girl now, as I know my hubby will be strong and yes this makes me feel secure. Of course I expect him to weep and crumble at times, he is human, not a robot and at these times I hope I am strong for him.

    Sorry but if a man touches me in the street I want my hubby to punch him squarely on the nose. The wierd thing is I am completely capable of punching his nose myself but there is just something comforting about knowing that my man will protect me, it does make me feel secure. I am more than capable of going and fitting the new fuse box but there is something nice about watching my hubby do it (after 3 months of obligatory nagging of course).

    I don't want to be a female man anymore, I want to be a girly and I want my husband to be a man.
     
  20. greymare

    greymare New Member

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    oh I think I have just realized the same thing as you are saying mw. I was on my own with the boys for so long, I had to be mother, father, fixer, comforter and all those things. Im not complaining but it would have been nice to be a girly girl in those times. now Im just set in my ways, i guess. I want some thing pink, other than my phone. hahahahah. I do get what you are saying mw. Im not poking fun. I think id like to be protected, when I need it, not to have to be the strong one, all the time. not that I want to be converted. Maybe its just the little girl in me wanting that security. dunno. Ill think on it. love the grey
     

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